Column: Federal budget cuts would affect libraries


Thank you to all the readers who enjoyed last week’s April Fools’ Day column. While drones are currently attempting deliveries in the UK, that’s not quite in the realm of possibilities for US libraries yet.

Also, we certainly do love our furry friends at the library, but we would rather you support a local shelter like the Humane Society of Delaware County, Cozy Cat Cottage, or the Powell Animal Welfare Society (PAWS) for your animal adoption needs.

Something that is much more real and that deserves your attention this week is the proposed federal budget. Announced in March, the budget suggests cuts and increases in a variety of areas. One such area that has a proposed cut is the Institute of Museum and Library Services (IMLS).

You may be wondering how the proposed cuts would affect our library. Thanks to a letter and outline from State Librarian Beverly Cain, here are a few direct impacts such cuts would have to your everyday services in Ohio libraries.

While Ohio libraries do not receive any federal money directly, we do take advantage of a number of services that are provided by the State Library of Ohio through the Library Services and Technology Act (LSTA), the only federal program exclusively for libraries, which is instituted through the IMLS. This funding is what would be cut from Ohio libraries.

On the Research page of the Delaware County District Library website, you’ll notice that we have several databases powered by a site called EBSCOhost. These include the Literary Reference Center, which provides full text of literary journals and respected reference works; MasterFILE Premier for other periodical full text articles; and several sites designed for school-aged children to find credible research resources.

Under the proposed cuts, all EBSCO databases would disappear or have to be funded at the local level. The lack of LSTA funding to support the library databases jointly provided by the State Library, OPLIN, OhioLINK, and INFOhio would jeopardize the partnership and could potentially lead to elimination of the statewide availability of these resources.

The Collaborative Summer Library Program consists of a consortium of states working together to provide high-quality summer reading program materials. The fees to be part of this consortium are provided free to Ohio libraries through payment by the State Library of Ohio and federal funds. Unfortunately, the cut in funds would mean these tools, which help us guide and plan our excellent summer reading programs, would no longer be subsidized.

Ohio Digital Library, serving the patrons of 177 public libraries across the state, would no longer receive support from the State Library; member libraries would be required to pay a portion of the yearly software maintenance to the tune of $125,000. This is the tool that the majority of Ohioans use to download free eBooks and other electronic materials from their local public library.

Competitive grants to support innovative initiatives in areas including Data Management and Analytics, Outreach and Partnerships, and STEM/STEAM, would no longer exist. Plans to use LSTA funds to support digital literacy programs would also be eliminated once current grant funding ends.

There will be many twists and turns in the federal budget process over the coming months, but as you can see, much of what we do could be affected under the current proposal. So what can you do? Well, we celebrate National Library Week this week and Thursday, April 13 has officially been designated “Take Action for Libraries Day.”

On this Thursday, we recommend you call on our nation’s leaders to safeguard IMLS funding. Visit and under “Sign A Petition” click “Call Congress to Support IMLS” or “Preserve Funding for the IMLS, NEH, NEA and PBS.” This is a great way to let your federal legislators know that funding to libraries matters to you and your everyday life.

You can also let us know your story. Email me at [email protected] or call me at 740-362-3861. I’m collecting video stories to send to the American Library Association this National Library Week of how libraries transform. If you have a good story about a way a library has helped transform your life, please share it. I look forward to hearing from you.

Nicole Fowles

Glad You Asked

If you have a question that you would like to see answered in this column, mail it to Nicole Fowles, Delaware County District Library, 84 E. Winter St., Delaware, OH 43015, or call us at 740-362-3861. You can also email your questions by visiting the library’s web site at or directly to Nicole at [email protected]. No matter how you contact us, we’re always glad you asked!

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